All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

5 Ways To Deal With Problems Positively

Let’s face this fact; things don’t always go the way we want them to go. It seems that at least once every day something goes awry in some fashion. Sometimes it’s a small thing, sometimes it’s a big thing. None of us are immune.

Happy lane
Brett Davies via Compfight

Truthfully, there’s little that can be done about the big things. Someone you know expires, no matter how it happened, you’re not going to be prepared for it. Your house falls down because of an earthquake, who can be blamed for something like that? Major crises affect every person in different ways, and I’m not going to minimize how awful things like that can be.

Luckily, the majority of negative things that happen to us aren’t all that big a deal. Sometimes we make them big deals, but I’m of the opinion that’s on us. I know because I’ve run the gamut of both. When it seems like I’m in a bad pattern every little thing that happens feels like things are piling on and they’re never going to stop. When I’m in a good pattern things roll off my shoulders, and even if I get upset it doesn’t last long. That’s a better place to be; believe me.

In that vein I decided to share 5 little tips on how to deal with problems in a positive manner, and then I’ve included a video that I know some folks will say they liked but aren’t going to watch it; sigh… lol Hey, it is what it is right? These will be short; let’s get started:

1. When something happens, gauge how much you or someone else got hurt. If no one got physically hurt or received mortally bad news, then it’s not so bad.

2. Does it involve money? If so, is it immediate money or money at some further time? If you can afford it then what’s the problem other than a short term diminishing of your funds? If you can’t afford it worrying won’t help you figure out how to get the money if it’s something you really need.

3. Try to find a way to view situations as a story you can tell other people later. I do that one often, even if I’m a part of the story at the time. It’s hard to remain angry when your mind is on something else, such as trying to remember stuff.

4. Try to find something to smile about. Even serious events can sometimes be diffused with a smile here and there. You comfort people by trying to make them feel better, and if it works for them why can’t it work for you?

5. Remember that you’re never really alone. You always have someone to talk to, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone on social media. Goodness, one of the best things about a blog is being able to occasionally get your thoughts out into the open and then having your visitors help you mentally. There’s always someone around who wants to help you feel better; the world really is a much better place than the news makes it out to be sometimes.

That’s all I have… well, except for the video. Let me know your thoughts below; now enjoy my video, even if I’m not in it.
 


 

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A Big Danger With Free Themes

I’m someone who has always said that there’s nothing wrong with using free themes for your blog because I don’t believe there’s any inherent SEO benefit to using paid themes. Some claim that they’ve seen their income go skyhigh once they switched, but the overwhelming majority of people don’t make a single dime more than they did using a free theme.

free 'sweet' hugs
Jesslee Cuizon via Compfight

Overall, there’s no major difference between using free or paid except for three things.

One, if you use a free theme at some point you should think about changing up some things here and there so that it truly becomes yours. You’re going to want to do as much as you can to help yourself stand out and become unique if it’s connected with your business model.

Two, because you don’t always know who created the free theme, you might end up having to deal with issues of copyright and images, such as when I wrote this post about images and Getty Images and one of my clients.

Three… totally different matter. Last week a couple of my blogs were hacked, and if you follow that link you’ll find out what I did about it in case you ever go through it yourself. I have lots of protections on my blogs that I thought would take care of such things, and for the most part they worked. But it seems there’s a potential back door, and that’s what I’m warning you about.

Most people don’t ever take a look into the coding that makes up themes; I have. Back in the day I’d learned pretty quickly that often in the footer of some themes there’s some hidden code that links back to a website of the creator, and it’s not always a good thing.

For the first year or so of this blog my top search keywords had to do with credit cards, and I had no idea why because I’d never covered the topic on this blog. Then I learned about the code & footers and I took a look through the Appearance/Editor feature of the blog dashboard, only to discover that I couldn’t see anything in there. What I had to do was download it to my computer, open it up in my HTML program, and run some cool program at the time that revealed the link. Of course I removed it, even though the “license” said you could use the theme if you didn’t make any changes to the footer (oops), and I’ve never had that issue again.

However, what I’d also done back in the day for this blog and my main business blog is download a bunch of themes to test out, selected one, and then moved on with life. On the business blog I changed its theme 3 times before settling on the one it’s got now, but I never changed the theme on this blog once I selected it, though I have modified what it looks like.

The main thing I didn’t do, that ended up causing me major problems and something I’m going to warn you about? I never deleted any of those other themes that I wasn’t ever going to use. I never even thought about it because I never had a reason to look at the Appearance/Themes area ever again. On two of my other blogs I used the same theme I now use on my business blog, as it’s easy to modify and change up, and I modified the theme on my local blog before I ever uploaded it, so no worries there.

The hackers were able to exploit something in one theme on both my business blog and this one; that’s all it took to bring down all my blogs and all my websites, since they’re all on the same server. They didn’t get into anything; I’m not even sure if they were going to try. Lucky for me my hosting company, 1&1, caught the intrusion on their own and locked down all my sites, giving me time to fix things later the next day.

I’m betting that anyone with a blog more than 3 years old has something on it that they’ve forgotten about for years and not even tried to update. This is why there’s always someone warning you about making sure you update your blog software and your plugins, and of course recommending that you backup your blogs whenever possible.

In conclusion, as with anything that’s free you take your chances with free themes, though the same can be said for some paid themes. Your best bet is to go with newer free themes as they’ll have fewer files that can be exploited, and once you select a theme kill all the others you tested and try to make sure there’s nothing hidden in the footer except maybe a link directly to the person who created it. In that regard I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due, as long as there wasn’t anything sneaky in there.
 

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The Problems That Are LinkedIn

It appears that the last time I wrote anything really positive about using LinkedIn was March 2012; now that’s a shame. The real shame isn’t that I haven’t written anything positive about it; the shame is that it’s not quite what it was back then, thus it’s a bit more difficult these days to be as positive as I was then.

links in

As I wrote in my previous post regarding social media in general, LinkedIn is supposed to be for business networking. To a degree it still is that. For instance, they have groups like Facebook does but you won’t see a group on there talking about Harry Potter or reality TV. However, within some groups the lines are blurred a bit here and there and you wonder if you’re actually there to talk business or be a captive audience for carefully (not always) crafted sales messages from both companies and individuals.

Part of it’s problem is that it knows what it wants to be and yet it’s in direct competition with two other monoliths, Facebook and Google Plus. Sure, Facebook really doesn’t concentrate on business, but many businesses are there, including me, and we’re competing for the consumer as opposed to other businesses to work with. Overall, who’s more likely to buy, consumers or businesses? After all, everyone is a consumer, but not everyone is a business. And Google Plus hasn’t really defined itself either, but when you’ve got nearly 300 million people and, well, you’re Google, the numbers are only going to increase and they’re going to increase fast.

One of the strangest things LinkedIn has done is set up this thing where it makes recommendations to people as to what to recommend you for, making it easy for your connections to share your expertise with everyone else. The thing is that many things you end up being recommended for aren’t your expertise, and it’s not only people you don’t know well who are recommending you for those things. To that end, why do people I don’t know all that well but have connected to through some entity or another recommend me at all, especially if they’ve never been to my website or read a blog post? Maybe it’s because when you recommend someone for something you get your picture listed next to it; I’m not really sure…

You can be recommended for up to 50 things by other people. If there are other things you’re recommended for but don’t break through the top 50, you have to remove something to let something else in. That sounds simple but the fact is that if you pay much attention to it at all you’re always deleting something that LinkedIn itself came up with, and it’s over and over; so strange. And sure, they picked out a lot of stuff that does fit me as far as what I can help people with, but I can assure you that “volunteer management”, “creativity coaching” and “entrepreneurship” aren’t really specialties of mine. Not only that, but some things I’ve been recommended for multiple times, once with capital letters, once without; that takes away from things doesn’t it?

LinkedIn did add one new feature that’s kind of neat. You get to add a link or video to whatever business you mention. Because I have two different businesses listed, I got to add one for each, and I took full advantage of that, though I wonder who the heck will be watching them. No matter; links are links if they’re legitimate, and both should give those who may stop by and not know so much about me an idea of what I can do for them or with them; never miss taking advantage of an opportunity to promote yourself for free is it’s a legitimate offer. 🙂

Finally, let’s talk about the main page when you sign in. Used to be you’d see some names listed and that was it. Now it looks just like the Facebook page, and things move by so fast that, like Facebook, you just can’t keep up with it. And they now have sponsors; well, I guess they had to find a financial model like everyone else. On my home page right now is an ad for a phone app, recommendations of groups I should join, people I know who got endorsed the new way (there’s still the old way of endorsing people, which I highly recommend), recommendations of people I should connect with “that I know” (that I DON’T know), and lots and lots of links that go on and on.

I guess I shouldn’t complain all that much. After all, recommendations even coming from people I don’t know all that well means people are possibly thinking of me in some fashion (not actually…) right? Having the opportunity to show your expertise in a particular business by commenting in a group helps some right? Seeing all those links to website and blog posts and news posts are kind of interesting, and you can do it as well so it’s all good right?

By the way, you can also now “like” stuff; now where have I seen that before?
 

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Who And How Do You Check Who To Connect With On Social Media?

Every day, those of us who are on social media get contacted by someone who wants to connect with us. Occasionally it’s us reaching out to someone else because we want to connect with them; kind of makes sense, right?

Arizona Flickr Meetup - Sam's Cafe
cobalt123 via Compfight

Most of the time I think the majority of people on some social media platforms add everyone who they know adds them. I think that because I see some of the numbers and every once in awhile look at some of the people that people I’m following are following; I hope you kept up with that. lol And often I see them connected to some folks who I’d consider either kind of shady or someone who’s never going to talk to them.

Yet, I know that there are some folks who I’ll check out “just because”, even if I don’t end up adding them to any of my lists. Why? Well, let’s look at this topic in general; we’ll get to it.

I’m going to start with LinkedIn because it’s the easiest one to talk about. I can’t remember the last time I reached out to someone I didn’t already know on LinkedIn; actually that’s not quite true because I do remember. It was back in January when I was trolling for potential business contacts. I looked for people in my industry, looked at what they did, and if they were someone I figured could use my services in some fashion or might know who could I reached out to them.

What about people who reach out to me? I have some criteria, though I’ll admit it’s not as strict as in other places. If there’s no picture and I don’t know them, it’s an immediate rejection. If I do know them then it depends on how well; obviously those are local people and I can often gauge who wants to connect because of sales or because of networking; most of those people I reject.

Everyone else I have to check out because I need to see what people do and try to figure out why they want to connect with me. If there’s nothing written on their profile except positions, I turn them down; I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t fill any of their information in. If there’s some kind of business connection and they wrote something in their profile, I’m probably going to go ahead and connect with them. After all, you never know who they know until you do, and you never know where opportunities lie right?

Next, there’s Twitter. I’ve written about this one often but not in a long while. I look at every profile where someone has connected with me and I look for a few things to make my decision. If there’s no picture, nope. If you haven’t talked to anyone in at least 2 weeks, nope; and thanking people for connecting with you doesn’t count as conversation. If you found it important enough to put your political or religious feelings in your profile, nope. If most of what you write is in another language, nope.

This probably explains why I not only have fewer followers but my ratio of who follows me to who I follow is almost 4:1. When I had a “Twitter friend” that, unfortunately, was discontinued, that allowed me to check those who were following me here and there to see how they were acting online I could eliminate some folks every once in awhile, but now that it’s totally manual it doesn’t look like I’ll have as much backend control; thus, I’m choosier than before in who I connect with.

We Are The Many, Occupy Oakland Move In Day (27 of 31)
Glenn Halog via Compfight

On Facebook it’s rare that people want to connect with me; well, it’s the most rare out of the main social media platforms. In that case the criteria begins with who we’re both connected with; I like to try to have some idea of how people might have found me. I also check profiles, and lately I’ve noticed that more of the profiles reaching out are just sales sites; ugh! My ratio for accepting people there is 50-50, but since Facebook set it up where people can follow you even if you’re not connected to them it’s harder to keep people away from your stream unless you’re really paying attention.

On Google Plus… well, here’s where the rules differ a lot, and where I’ll own up to something that I’m betting everyone does in some fashion. G+ tells you if someone had added you to their circle. This happens often, and the first thing I look for is how many people we’re connected to and who they are.

If it’s people who I feel I’m more communicative with I’ll check out their profiles to see what they share and how current they are. If the last submission was more than 3 months ago, no connection; why are they even bothering me now? If all they post are their blog posts or on topics I don’t care that much about, nope, not connecting. If they’re connected to only a couple of people and those folks aren’t people I connect with often, yet put into a circle anyway, I’m probably not bothering unless… Okay, here it comes.

I’ll admit this; if it’s a good looking lady I’ll always take a look; go ahead, call me a pig! lol It’s the only platform I’ll do it on, and I’m not sure why. Thing is, I believe most of them are fake because I almost never add any of them. Why? Often they’re like Facebook folks who are only posting sales stuff. Often they only have the one profile picture and, well, I just don’t always believe it’s them; sometimes I know it’s not them because just how many women look like Gwyneth Paltrow anyway?

Overall I look at social media like this. Sure I want to be recognized, and I may want to be more influential, noticed, seen as an expert, etc. But the act of just connecting with people who connect with you for no other reason except to raise your numbers makes little sense to me. I can’t possibly even keep up with all the people I’m connected with already and those folks have intrigued me. If I connect with everyone, those folks totally get lost, even if I create specific lists to track some of them. I’d rather not go through that process; how do you feel about that?

Anyway, that’s how I do things on social media; what about you? And do you think my criteria are too high or too low at times, and what do or would you do different?
 

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Stepping Away From Social Media; The Risks, The Rewards…

Last week I did another one of my experiments. After what turned into a draining holiday week I decided that I was going to step away from social media for a week just to see what would happen. I pretty much thought I knew what would happen on one front; absolutely nothing. I even made a video about it and popped it up on YouTube that I didn’t promote, figuring almost no one would watch it and thus it wouldn’t matter that I announced it somewhere, as it’s the only place I did announce it; that sucker only got 5 views and it got 2 thumbs up; not a bad ratio. lol

IMAG1385
I was chillin’

First let me qualify what I considered as social media during this time. It included Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, Empire Avenue and Twitter. I didn’t respond to anyone from any of those platforms, and I didn’t even go look at those pages, although I admit it was tough initially. After all, I did get email from many of those sources, although I didn’t get a single thing directly to me on any of them; that was somewhat prophetic.

I also didn’t write a single blog post after Sunday, though I did respond to comments if I received any; I’d never disrespect anyone who took the time to comment on a blog post. So, even though I consider blogging to be a big part of social media, that was a courtesy call. But I didn’t read or comment on any other blogs during this time. The only deviation from totally disappearing was having a guest post on my financial blog go live during the week; nothing I could do about that one.

I did respond to email though, and I did go online to play chess against a couple of people on different sites, as well as going to Nationstates to play, since I don’t interact with anyone there. Thus, I didn’t abandon the internet; I even watched some YouTube videos. But I didn’t talk to anyone; overall, I was invisible.

The first thing I noticed was the craving come Sunday night. I stopped participating after midnight on Saturday, but I was on airplanes and in airports until close to 4PM and wasn’t in the hotel until around 4:45. Thus, I didn’t start missing anything until around 8PM, when I decided I was in for the night and wondered what the heck I was going to do with myself. The same for Monday night, except I had WWE wrestling to help me take my mind off that for awhile. lol

Otherwise, once the craving was gone I wasn’t really missing anything except Empire Avenue, which is a game but offers the opportunity to interact with people, thus my reason to stay away from it.

I got really comfortable with things and it took some pressure off… some that is, and I’ll come back to that. However, I still didn’t really know what to do with myself. I had hoped that I would be productive, write a lot of stuff, read a lot of stuff, etc. I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I played this sudoku game on my Nook, went to bed early, slept terribly because I wasn’t used to trying to sleep that early, and didn’t produce anything. What a major waste of time that was; and people say social media wastes time.

The second thing I noticed was that I felt more alone than I expected I would. Without having people online to talk to or interact with, and being out of town, I felt a little bit lonely. I did get to go out with the one friend I know living here Wednesday night but that was it. So, for the week I had to deal with cicadas, working out and hurting myself, and my food pictures on my own because I couldn’t share a thing.

And yet, I also felt a release of a certain type of pressure I hadn’t thought of before. The “need” to share certain things waned a bit. I didn’t share any news stories that intrigued me. I didn’t share pictures or links to anything that I enjoy doing. I was suddenly anonymous; I could do anything I wanted to, not read anything if I didn’t care to because I knew I wasn’t going to read with the intention of finding neat stuff to share with anyone.

I hadn’t thought about it before but participating in social media can be stressful. When it comes to blogging, even though I write fairly easily, the idea that I should be producing so much content to keep people visiting my blogs and websites is crushing when you step away from it. It’s amazing how much the traffic on my blogs and websites has dropped as I’ve slowed down on how much I’d been producing before I left town; amazing. I was always cognizant of having to do it and enjoying doing it, but seeing what I see… mind blowing.

Finally, the third thing I noticed is that no one noticed. I didn’t get any messages asking where I was or if anything was wrong. I didn’t see anything coming through the email stream noticing that anything had changed. Actually, when I finally reappeared, it wasn’t until late Saturday that someone actually said that he noticed I’d been quiet lately; one guy. lol

And yet, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. So, when I was ready to end the experiment I wasn’t quite ready to end it, though I did. I started slowly, starting with Empire Avenue, doing a quick check on Twitter and Google Plus, and leaving Facebook for the next day. I also popped a couple of images up on Instagram; I love that program! lol

What my time away did was reinforce things I’ve talked about in the past about working on being fascinating, working on being more important and being seen as an expert and putting myself out there in more focused and distinct ways.

In the long run I have some goals and dreams to reach, and I can’t do it by being away. Thus, I’m going to be working on producing more and being more visible in a couple more places. I’m also going to be more circumspect in what I share of myself and from others because I want to maximize my time a bit more towards focusing on how I’m perceived; when I finally write my review on The Charge by Brendon Burchard, it’ll be understood better.

So I’m back, whether you missed me or not. And I’m not going away any time soon; I’m coming back in spades… whatever that really means. 😉
 

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